I finished signing the waiver, then went to the small black tent to pick up my race packet. I looked around at the fit participants in their specialized footwear and my nerves fluttered. What the heck was I doing here? Did I really know what I was in for here?
The man in line next to me turned my way, striking up conversation.
"First one?" he said.
"Is it that obvious?" I said.
He smiled and shrugged.
"Kinda. You just look a little nervous is all."
"Well, great!" I said, letting out a nervous laugh.
"Don't worry about it. You'll be fine. It's all about having fun."
I smiled and nodded at the man, then tried to quell my obviously frayed nerves. Apparently, they were written all over my face so that even strangers could tell I was nervous.
I picked up my packet and entered the village of tents that the race crew had erected for this weekend's events. It was pretty impressive. Music blared, and buff, bare-chested men jumped, squatted, and stretched. Women clad in only sports bras and shorts, sporting abs I could only dream of, stood staring into space with intimidating intensity.
I looked down at my polyester t-shirt and plain, black Wal-Mart leggings and sighed. Sexy amazon, I was not. Intimidatingly intense? Yeah. Not so much.
I was reasonably fit but thoroughly average in every respect. I certainly couldn't show off ridged abs like these other ladies. I was such a fish out of water here that I almost turned around and walked out. I could text Rick and Aaron and tell them I was sick...
"Kate!" Rick's voice came from behind another gaggle of fitness freakazoids. Shit! Too late now...
I watched Rick emerge from behind a flock of pony-tailed fitness model types as they pranced along.
Rick fit right in with this crowd. His tight tech tee hugged his bulging pecs; his carved arms stretched the sleeves of his shirt. As he moved, I could see the cobbles of his tight abs through his thin shirt. He smiled as he saw me wave, approaching at a jog.
I had been crushing on Rick for a while now, stealing glances as his gym-honed physique during our training sessions for this race. When he had first asked me to do it, I think I gave a schoolgirl titter as I said yes--so NOT in my normal nature.
As Rick approached, he slid a hand across his buzz cut, flipping off the accumulation of misty rain from the western Washington morning.
"Hi, Kate! Glad you made it!" Rick gave me a firm hug. I delighted in the pressure of his strong arms and hard body as the hug pulled me up to my tiptoes. My breasts ached a little, pressed against his iron chest, but I ignored it. It was a small price to pay for the rest of the yumminess.
"Yeah, me too!" I said cheerfully, neglecting to mention the fact that, moments before, I had nearly decided to eat my $20 parking fee and get the heck out of here.
"Hi, guys!" came Aaron's voice from behind me. I turned and felt my smile widen.
As attracted as I was to Rick, Aaron was the one I was really comfortable around. He was a good-natured fortyish man and my Spartan-training bestie. Where Rick was so athletic and hardcore as to be intimidating, Aaron was jovial and self-deprecating. I had liked him from the moment I met him at the crags.
I hugged Rick, his body softer than Rick's and his grip non-painful. I bounced back, more comfortable now by his mere presence.
"So are you guys ready to do this thing or what?" said Aaron, giving Rick a quick guy-clasp as well.
"Are we ever!" said Rick, a twinkle in his blue eye.
"No comment," I said, letting my nervousness show through.
"Uh oh! I'm sensing some butterflies in our little buttercup over here," said Aaron good-naturedly. "If anyone should be worried about this thing, it should be me! I can barely do a pull-up these days!"
Rick clapped him on the back.
"You'll do just fine, man. And so will you, Katie!" Rick said with an encouraging nod.
"I hope so," I said, unconvinced as I looked at the super-fit folks passing by.
I looked down at the packet. It had a sticker on it: "Competitive Wave: 8:00 AM."
"What the heck does Competitive Wave mean?" I asked the others.
"Oh, nothing. It just means they check your burpees and stuff. Don't worry about it," said Rick.
"Okaaaay..." I eyed him warily.
"Seriously," he said.
"Leave it to Rick to get us roped into the craziest of the crazies for this thing!" laughed Aaron.
Rick just gave a crooked grin.
"Okay, so what do we do now?" I asked.
"Well, let's put on our wristbands and headbands and stuff," said Rick.
The three of us opened our packets and began to don the items in the packet. Timing chip wristband--check. Competitive 8:00 AM Wave wristband--check. Headband with the number on it--check. Beer wristband?
"Hey, I don't even like beer!" I said.
In the blink of an eye, Aaron snatched the wristband away from me.
"I'll take that. Beer is my best event in these sorts of races," he told me with a wink. Rick gave a belly laugh.
When we were done, we went over to the bag check.
"Another $5! Geez! These guys really bleed you dry!" I said, miffed at all of the incidental charges. "Why don't they just include this in the price of the race? I don't even think I have any more cash after the parking fee..."
"No problem, Katie... I got you covered," said Aaron, forking over the requisite cash for me.
"Thanks, Aaron," I said, sheepishly, embarrassed at not thinking ahead enough to bring more cash.
Aaron gave a comedic bow, one foot in front of the other. I laughed and nudged him with my shoulder, nearly toppling him off balance. He joined my laughter as he recovered.
We checked our backpacks, used the port-a-potties, and climbed over the low wall into the starting area.
After a fun little pep talk by the race announcer, hollaring "I am a Spartan!" and "Aroo!" a few times, we were off. As we passed through the starting gate, I thought I saw a weird blue glow around the the underside of the sign and the poles to either side. As I ran, I looked back. No blue glow. That was strange, I thought. It must just be nerves making me see things or something.
I turned back ahead to watch Rick's rock hard butt bouncing in front of me and half-smiled in spite of myself. At least there would be some good scenery in this race, I thought, giving a little mental giggle.